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Old 30-05-2013, 12:29   #91
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
I also sometimes take a couple of turns through the eye in order to spread the load out further--in other words, a bowline with two round turns. You can do that with a lot of hitches, like is done with the anchor bend, to spread the load out.
That's actually a recognised knot called the Double Bowline. It does help the shaking out problem. Even more secure is making the two loops a clove hitch, which then becomes a Water Bowline .

PS Have you worked out by now I love knots
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Old 30-05-2013, 12:47   #92
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day all,

I'm interested in the condemnation of the lowly bowline, apparently due to its tendency to "shake loose". We, and very many others, have used bowlines to attach jib sheets to clews for years. I can not think of an application which would subject the knot to more shaking, frequent slacking to zero load and general abuse... yet I have never had one come loose.

Could someone explain this apparent paradox?

Cheers,

Jim
The bowline is the King of Knots. Shake loose?? Hah! Only if you tie it wrong
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Old 30-05-2013, 12:50   #93
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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The bowline is the King of Knots. Shake loose?? Hah! Only if you tie it wrong
They don't come loose under load, just when unloaded. As described above, one can fix that problem.
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Old 30-05-2013, 12:58   #94
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
The bowline is the King of Knots. Shake loose?? Hah! Only if you tie it wrong
Oh, no, not the King of Knots, but certaily noble .

It CAN shake loose when loaded and unloaded, particularly under water (even with a long tail). There are three modifications that fix that .
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Old 30-05-2013, 13:13   #95
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

I've only had one come loose because the tail was too short. One more proviso is that you must pull it tight directly after tying.
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Old 30-05-2013, 13:41   #96
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

I'm sure almost everyone here will have noticed that the difference in security under repeated loading between a proper Bowline and one tied the wrong way (aka left handed Bowline) is remarkable, similar to the diff between a reef knot and a granny.

If I'm teaching anyone the knot I always tie a pair, one each way, loosely round a rail in the two ends of a line, side by side, and subject both of them to the same series of jerks. The "wrong" one will start to loosen visibly within a very short time.

I encourage them to repeat the experiment any time they feel themselves getting a bit hazy about the correct way, to reinforce the importance of doing it right.

If I haven't done this, I must confess to having a bit of mistrust of bowlines tied by others if I haven't seen the knot close up.

For correctly tied bowlines, I'm personally entirely comfortable about the security for sheets, in dacron/polyester braid, provided a long tail is left, as savoir notes.

For stiff and/or slippery ropes (eg long shorelines in budget polypropylene) I am not, and have always done something with the tail: tuck it, whip it, tape it or whatever.

Thanks Seaworthy for doing such a great job of documenting the Yosemite enhancement.

If teaching the bowline to someone who cares, I always teach them a method where they use the free end, gripped in a particular way, to form the loop in the other by a rotary wrist movement, and then an extension and U-turn of the wrist gets the 'rabbit' around the back of the 'tree' in the correct direction, so that the knot can be tied the correct hand in a New York second with closed eyes, after a bit of practice.

Muscle memory trumps intellectual memory or visual memory in a big way. Ask anyone who can touch type to tell you the location of particular letters, and you will almost invariably see them close their eyes, and move their fingers.
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Old 30-05-2013, 13:53   #97
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

Talking of rabbits in a thread about sheetbends reminded me:

It just came to mind that the first unique sheet-bend attribute I mentioned in the OP – the ability to be tied when you have almost no protruding length – was the only thing which enabled me pull a rabbit out of the hat once, on one of the most challenging missions I was ever given.


The mission came from one of the worst owners I've ever sailed for (the sort of guy who, if the mast came down, you just knew would utter something along the lines of "Fix that, would you, Andrew, there's a good fellow" on his way below-decks...)

We had to carry a roller-reefed jib-top (similar to a yankee); it was the only sail available under the circumstances (don't ask, just take it from me it was our only option) in winds which we knew were going to remain in the 60-70 knot range for possibly a couple of hours, before we got far enough away from the land which was accelerating the wind from its gradient value of around 50.

That might sound a lot of wind for a roller reefed sail to withstand, but it was a solidly built sail, on a Reckmann hydraulic furler, with a headfoil of a section which would have made a very adequate mast on a small seagoing sailboat.

The boat had righting moment to burn, so the sail was only rolled a couple of turns, and accordingly still nice and flat.

So it was coping just fine, except that the leech line tail had come untied and promptly self-destructed, and the leech was motor-boating so badly that the sail was not long going to stay in one piece unless something was done.

We were still in the lee of one of the islands we were departing (although not for much longer!), but they offered no safe harbours in these conditions ... and having just dealt with an engineroom fire, and with no way of hoisting sail aft of the mast, I wasn't about to suggest we try and get back into such shelter as they offered.

This still-magnificent vessel had once been impeccably maintained (I had reason to know, having sailed on her years earlier), but under her present ownership she had been badly run down.

The problem was that the clew was much too high off the deck for me to reach. We were broad reaching with the sail sheeted in as though close hauled, which we did for the next thirty six hours, because one or two decent flogs with a sail that big in that much wind might have shaken the rig down. The pre-eminent reason at that moment, though, was that this kept the leech stable and close to the boat, where there was a chance of dealing with it.

I didn't want to go up the rig on a harness because the owner was frankly so unreliable I couldn't be sure he wouldn't either drop me or forget about me when it was time for me to come down.

So I quickly realised that I had to find some way to do it unaided, and fast. There were shroud rollers protecting the capshroud rigging screws, made from 60mm diameter stainless tube maybe 3.5m long, with nice Delrin lathe-turned nosecones at the top.

Too slippery to prusik up, but I was able to rig a prusik look around the leeward tube and push it up to the top with a broken batten, past the nose-cone, so it contracted onto the rod rigging, to give me an anchor point for a safety line with a decent angle to keep me mostly out of the sea (we were doing maybe thirteen knots).

I took the tail of the headsail sheet, where it came off from being cleated on top of the coffee-grinder primary winch drum, and cleated it a second time to a fixed cleat with several locking turns, to be doubly sure no clown could cast the sheet off, as I would be beaten to death within seconds.

So now I could prusik up the sheet in my climbing harness, with the backup safety line in case the sheet or clew-ring or sail bust while I was up there. But I still wasn't sure how I was going to be able to tie a fresh length of cordage onto what was left of the leech line.

It was vibrating too hard to see properly how much was left from the deck, even with binos, so I was going to have to work something out when I got up there.

This story is already way too long, so lets just say there was not much more than 30mm of 5mm cord sticking out, but that was just enough to get a double sheetbend onto with the 3mm braid I'd taken, and it was possible to tie it largely one-handed, which was convenient, in fact, essential.

Then it was trivially simple to rig a trucker's hitch from the clew to haul it tight and shut the sail up.

That kludge held all the way back to civilisation and sail lofts.

The owner was so impressed he gave an appreciative grunt.
At least, I assumed it was appreciative ...
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Old 30-05-2013, 14:02   #98
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Muscle memory trumps intellectual memory or visual memory in a big way. Ask anyone who can touch type to tell you the location of particular letters, and you will almost invariably see them close their eyes, and move their fingers.
I agree 100% about muscle memory. To achieve this a knot must be practised over and over. Eyes open, eyes closed, behind your back, from different directions.....

I know it sounds like a nerdy thing to do, but when faced with needing to tie a knot in a hurry (and possily in an emergency) is is no time to be thinking which knot is best for the purpose, then trying to remember how to tie it correctly or settling for an inappropriate knot because you just have no idea.

Even cruising full time there are lots of knots I need to tie only several times a year, but when the need arises I must be quick with the decision of what knot to use and quick and accurate with tying it. Only practice allows me to do that .

And living full time on board for nearly six years now, I have tied countless bowlines and some HAVE come undone with frequent loading and unloading and not because they were tied incorrectly or because the tail was too short. I am indebted to a CF member for pointing out an elegant solution last year (the Yosemite finish) and for making me read a lot more on the subject of knots.
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Old 30-05-2013, 14:13   #99
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

Thinking more about this, the other situations where I am mistrustful of bowlines (apart from unsuitable cordage) are invariably ones where the knot is likely to be repeatedly tugged gently, alternating with being completely unloaded. Situations where here is no guarantee of being heavily loaded.

Dinghy painters is one such circumstance. Or tying alongside under some conditions.

Whereas tying a sheet to a sail, in anything other than drifting conditions, the line will be under significant load a high proportion of the time, and in such contexts, I find the plain bowline completely reliable.

Do you see any pattern in the amount of load (or lack of it) in the contexts where you've had bowlines untie, Seaworthy?
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Old 30-05-2013, 14:44   #100
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Thinking more about this, the other situations where I am mistrustful of bowlines (apart from unsuitable cordage) are invariably ones where the knot is likely to be repeatedly tugged gently, alternating with being completely unloaded. Situations where here is no guarantee of being heavily loaded.

Dinghy painters is one such circumstance. Or tying alongside under some conditions.

Whereas tying a sheet to a sail, in anything other than drifting conditions, the line will be under significant load a high proportion of the time, and in such contexts, I find the plain bowline completely reliable.

Do you see any pattern in the amount of load (or lack of it) in the contexts where you've had bowlines untie, Seaworthy?
You have hit the nail on the head. Thinking about it it was when it had never been well loaded (only tightened as snuggly as I could by hand). You are perfectly right - it is that gentle tugging that undoes it.

The knot has come undone at least a dozen times when used to secure a polishing pad to my wrist (you would think I would have learned after the first few times, but I stubbornly simply could not believe that this trusted knot could do this LOL). A bigger problem was when I used it to tie a waterproof floating light to a fender that was used to alert any little fishing boats that we were med moored with stern lines tied to shore. The knot had undone by morning and the light was lost. Dinghy was the final straw, but luckily I had tied it with a second line from the other side so no harm was done (I secured it diagonally so it would not rub against the jetty).

I almost universally add a Yosemite finish to all Bowlines now - better to be safe than sorry .
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Old 31-05-2013, 02:15   #101
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
G'Day all,

I'm interested in the condemnation of the lowly bowline, apparently due to its tendency to "shake loose". We, and very many others, have used bowlines to attach jib sheets to clews for years. I can not think of an application which would subject the knot to more shaking, frequent slacking to zero load and general abuse... yet I have never had one come loose.

Could someone explain this apparent paradox?

Cheers,

Jim
I hear you Jim. Luckily for me, I did most of my sailing BCF (Before Cruisers Forum) so I never knew how bad bowlines and sheet bends were. Lucky also that I never had trouble with them coming undone.

Used the bowline everywhere except for attaching sheets to headsail. There I had a tail on the clew and used a double sheet bend.

But now I know better and will stay off the water until I learn the proper knots to use - KNOT

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Ouch. Tongue in cheek, indeed.

For the record, in terms of indoctrination, I read for the doctorate in the UK.

Feel glad we aren't spelling it "defenze."
Yea, I guess I should be happy
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Old 31-05-2013, 02:16   #102
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
.....

PS Have you worked out by now I love knots
Apparently even when sailing
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Old 31-05-2013, 03:00   #103
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
I agree 100% about muscle memory. To achieve this a knot must be practised over and over. Eyes open, eyes closed, behind your back, from different directions.....

I know it sounds like a nerdy thing to do, but when faced with needing to tie a knot in a hurry (and possily in an emergency) is is no time to be thinking which knot is best for the purpose, then trying to remember how to tie it correctly or settling for an inappropriate knot because you just have no idea.

Even cruising full time there are lots of knots I need to tie only several times a year, but when the need arises I must be quick with the decision of what knot to use and quick and accurate with tying it. Only practice allows me to do that .

And living full time on board for nearly six years now, I have tied countless bowlines and some HAVE come undone with frequent loading and unloading and not because they were tied incorrectly or because the tail was too short. I am indebted to a CF member for pointing out an elegant solution last year (the Yosemite finish) and for making me read a lot more on the subject of knots.
That's why I have consciously limited my repertoire of knots to a limited number which I can tie behind my back and in my sleep, giving up a number of knots which might be better in this or that situation.

In 99% of situations I find these enough:

bowline (and variations)
sheet bend
round turn & two half hitches
clove hitch
figure 8 stopper knot
rolling hitch
prussik
constrictor knot
double fisherman

I thought there were a dozen or so, but when I added them up, there are just nine. I don't consider the reef knot a knot at all -- wouldn't use it for anything but shoelaces or packages. Nor the "cleat hitch" -- nonsense. Likewise, the cow hitch, extremely useful, isn't really a knot, is it? I only use it with loops.

For anything else, I'm afraid I have to get out my knot book.

The one I will add to my repertoire this summer is the trucker's hitch -- something I have often needed (a la Andrew's story above) and have suffered because I can't do it without a knot book.

Looks to me like the Carrick Bend might be worth acquiring as well, pretty, simple, and stronger than my usual sheet bend. I know how to tie it; just need to practice it enough to get it into muscle memory.

I know the Kleimheist well and would add it to my list, except that I simply never use it for anything on board (used to use it a lot on land).

I've also set a task for myself that I'm going to learn how to splice octoplait. I don't know why it's so easy to splice three-strand and so seemingly impossible to do octo -- I guess practice will make perfect.


I envy the real knot virtuosos like Seaworthy I fully agree with her that this kind of thing needs practice (as a former prof musician, I know all about practice ), and to maintain a large repertoire of knots requires disproportionately more practice. If I ever get my boat in a condition to not require daily repairs while cruising, I'll spend more time on knots.
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Old 31-05-2013, 03:15   #104
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

I concur fully with Dockhead's prioritising tying certain knots well, over knowing lots of knots.

Execution trumps selection, to my way of thinking

My own list is almost identical with his; I would however have to get the book out to do a double fisherman, whereas I do feel the Alpine Butterfly has earned its place on my list.

The one thing I never worked out, and had to be shown by a climbing partner, was how to create a (freestanding) clove hitch easily and quickly in the middle of a line, without recourse to either end.

I find that perhaps the single most useful non-obvious rope trick.
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Old 31-05-2013, 03:28   #105
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Re: In defence of the sheet bend

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
I concur fully with Dockhead's prioritising tying certain knots well, over knowing lots of knots.

Execution trumps selection, to my way of thinking

My own list is almost identical with his; I would however have to get the book out to do a double fisherman, whereas I do feel the Alpine Butterfly has earned its place on my list.

The one thing I never worked out, and had to be shown by a climbing partner, was how to create a (freestanding) clove hitch easily and quickly in the middle of a line, without recourse to either end.

I find that perhaps the single most useful non-obvious rope trick.
I recommend the double fisherman to you -- it's the ultimate way to join two pieces of rope of the same diameter together end to end; I think it's the strongest knot in existence, or one of them anyway. A dead cinch to tie, and works with slippery rope.

I don't know the Alpine Butterfly at all; I'll have a look in my book.

Your clove hitch trick sounds cool and useful. My trick with a clove hitch is to make it up as a loop to throw over a pile -- but I guess everyone knows that one.
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